Just hours ahead of a confidence vote in Jersey's Chief Minister, the island's controversial top civil servant, Charlie Parker, says he has agreed to stand down.
The announcement comes after two weeks of bitter recriminations over his decision to accept a second job as a non-executive director, without getting written permission from his employer, the States Employment Board (SEB).
The fact he was given verbal approval by the Chief Minister, John Le Fondre, will be at centre of tomorrow's confidence vote in the States Assembly.
Mr Parker's second job with New River was later approved by the SEB - but was also ruled as being “not compatible” with his role as head of the island’s civil service by the Council of Ministers. Both bodies are led by the Chief Minister.
That led to a power struggle at the top of the island's government, and a series of meetings last week between Mr Parker and the SEB, and separately between Mr Parker and the Council of Ministers.
With the Chief Minister openly facing serious challenges to his authority, Mr Parker's letter announcing his "agreement" to step down comes just hours before Senator Le Fondré must face his political colleagues and fight for his future.
It has not yet emerged what level of financial settlement will be given to Mr Parker; but he has two years left on his contract, and his salary is in the region of £250,000 a year.
Pictured: Senator Le Fondre and Charlie Parker have been at the centre of a political storm for the last fortnight.
In his letter, Mr Parker wrote: “It is with great sadness that I am writing to confirm that following our discussions I have agreed to step down as Chief Executive and Head of the Public Service for the Government of Jersey.
“This is a job I love, in a beautiful place that I am privileged to call home and I do not wish to leave.
“The events of the last two weeks have been extremely difficult for all parties, but in particular for my family. I have tried to find a way through this impasse without seriously tarnishing my professional reputation and undermining my authority as Chief Executive, but unfortunately my efforts have been to no avail."
In his letter, Mr Parker also addresses tomorrow’s 'vote of no confidence' against Senator Le Fondré.
He writes: “I am truly appalled that what should be an uncontroversial individual employment matter has been used as a catalyst to challenge your position - especially at a time when we should be focused on our winter planning for Covid-19, the economic recovery and the delivery of the Government Plan.
“I believe that neither of us have deserved the treatment that we have received by those who seek to oppose and undermine the agenda for change that you have championed.”
He ends: “While I am a public figure, many in a similar position have shared with me how their public life affects their families and loved ones. Public servants - both elected and employed - should not be fair game for some of the recent attacks by those who should know better.
“They put themselves forward, sometimes with little thanks or praise, but with a deep sense of commitment and self-sacrifice. Jersey would do well to remember that.
“It is important that any disruption as a result of my departure is kept to an absolute minimum which is why I have offered to continue in post for as long as the Government requests me to, in order to ensure an orderly transition.”
A letter from the Chief Executive and Head of the Public Service, Charlie Parker. pic.twitter.com/78jZQBhOwy— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) November 9, 2020
In a statement, Senator John Le Fondré said: “The States Employment Board met today to discuss the outcome of their letter to the Chief Executive referenced last week.
“Following this, I have agreed with the Chief Executive, Charlie Parker, that he should stand down from his role as Chief Executive and Head of Public Service.
“Whilst the Government has set out the draft Government Plan, setting a more certain future for the Island over some challenging years to come, we have found ourselves significantly distracted by an overt attempt to derail the progress that this Government has made over the past two years and a challenge to our plan for the future.
“The progress we have made, and the plans set out ahead, have been steered by Charlie as Chief Executive and I would like to pay tribute to his determination on behalf of the Government. However, his position has become a distraction from the Government agenda, and he has agreed to stand aside."
Pictured: Mr Parker will continue with his role at New River, but leave his position in Jersey.
He continues: “He and the public service are great assets to any Chief Minister and Council of Ministers. Charlie has shown great personal resilience and fortitude to deliver on many of the priorities we agreed as a Government and set out in our plans. He leads a committed public service who deliver day-in and day-out for this Island and for which we should be grateful.
“To me, his commitment to the Island and Government has never been in doubt. He has been available to Ministerial colleagues at all hours, every day. His leadership and skills in handling the response to the covid-19 pandemic has exemplified his capability, capacity and tenacious ability to get things done in the most challenging of environments.
“Tomorrow, I will set out why my leadership and this Government needs to continue to deliver our ambitious agenda. We are getting things done where many others have not made progress before. We will continue to do so and rise above the politics that are engulfing and consuming others.”
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